You don’t need to read a newspaper to know that our business is evolving constantly.
The nation’s largest and most influential newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, continually are adjusting to the quickly changing ways that readers consume news.
The same is true with our weekly newspapers here at CSI Media.
You can try to stifle a person from speaking out, but you can't stifle an idea. Just like the arcade game Whac-A-Mole, ideas -- both good and bad -- persist.
Just last week, a regular contributor to our Perspectives page received an anonymous letter in the mail criticizing what the contributor had written a week earlier in the paper.
When I asked a group of high school students how long it's been since they read a printed newspaper, I had a pretty good idea I already knew the answer.
They hadn't read one in two weeks, or even a month. A few had read one in the past year, so I guess that's one good thing.
Our newspapers were honored with 12 awards Friday, March 31, at the annual Wisconsin Community Papers conference. This year’s event was held at the Abbey Resort in Fontana.
CSI Media, part of Bliss Communications, publishes Walworth County Sunday, the Walworth County Shopper/Advertiser, the Stateline News and the Janesville Messenger, along with a variety of specialty publications.
In Walworth County, where so much of the economy revolves around tourism, getting people to vacation here is a big deal.
But with an annual tourism budget dwarfed by our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, state officials have learned how to get more bang for their tourism buck.
By doing so, Wisconsin is able to compete throughout the region with any other state, according to Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.
Klett highlighted her approach during a speech Friday, March 31, 2017 at the Wisconsin Community Papers annual convention at the Abbey Resort in Fontana.
The trade group represents free weekly newspapers and shoppers in Wisconsin.
Klett said competition is fierce in the Great Lakes area for visitors and the money they spend.
Wisconsin's annual tourism budget is about $12 million, Klett said. That's compared to Michigan's $33.9 million and Illinois' annual tourism budget of $58 million.
But a lot is at stake. In Wisconsin, tourism is a $19.3 billion dollar industry that directly employs 190,000 people, according to Klett
In Walworth County, tourists in 2014 spent nearly $500 million and supported nearly 7,000 jobs, according to the Walworth County Visitors Bureau.
But the tourism message wasn't always as focused as it is today, Klett said.
By 2009, two years before Klett became secretary, Travel Wisconsin had come up with its fifth slogan in 15 years.
Unfortunately, the slogan around that time, "Live like you mean it," turned out to be something other than what was intended.
Klett remembers being at the announcement event when a woman leaned over and said, "Live like you mean it? That's the slogan for Bacardi Rum."
So the next day, Klett said, the headlines blared that state had paid $15,000 to plagiarize a slogan from a rum company.
Since those days, Klett says the department of tourism has focused on what she says in the No. one motivator for people going on vacation -- fun.
But everyone defines fun differently.
"My dad, without a fishing poll in his hand, hit's not fun. If you can touch that nerve of fun, you've got a winner," Klett said.
So, the department's first big splash into fun was to hire Wisconsin native David Zucker, who made a name for himself writing comedy films like "Airplane" and "Naked Gun."
He was excited about the project.
"You know in the 40 year's I've been gone from Wisconsin, no one's every asked me to do something for the state," he told Klett.
Zucker created a slapstick-funny winter spot that earned what Klett said was $10 million in free press.
For their next spot, they called on David's brother Jerry Zucker, also a co-writer on the "Airplane" movies.
Jerry Zucker's ad was filmed in Seymour and featured Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson, who found himself transported from his home in Kansas to Wisconsin.
The highlight of the collaboration, however, was a reunion between the Zucker brothers, fellow writer Jim Abrahams and stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Hays for a series of three commercials promoting Wisconsin based on the "Airplane" movies.
The reunion was a hit here in Wisconsin as well as in Hollywood.
Travel Wisconsin's latest efforts turn toward something that is classic Wisconsin -- the supper club.
The spot was filmed at the Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton, and revolved around making the perfect Old Fashioned.
That spot has been the most viewed so far, according to Klett.
Travel Wisconsin's efforts don't only revolve around TV advertising, however, Klett said.
There are different versions for print and some creative projects aimed specifically at Chicago, a market of major importance to Walworth County.
One project involved wrapping an architectural tour bus in Chicago with a Wisconsin Northwoods camp theme.
The project won numerous awards, as well as a free run in New York.
Klett, a former Miss Wisconsin, still lives in her hometown of Beloit.
Before becoming secretary, she was the host of the long-running tourism show, "Discover Wisconsin."
As she likes to remind people whenever she is out speaking, if you're having fun, she's having fun.
It’s been nearly two weeks since March 20, 2017, the official first day of spring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the seasons have changed with the extended stretch of cool, cloudy and gloomy weather.
We’re here to help.
This week's paper is a special edition, Spring Home & Outdoors, to get readers thinking about all of the possibilities of the season ahead.
The paper is packed with stories and ads to get your moving as the weather gets nicer.
(Read our full digital edition HERE: Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the edition of your paper.)
Senior Editor Lynn Greene spearheaded this project with a collection of stories we hope will help you get motivated for the new season.
In our lead feature, Greene interviewed experts in the field of home organizing and clutter control. They offered suggestions about how to tackle our homes and our lives to be more organized and efficient.
We also head to the golf course to preview what’s ahead in the golf season, from the U.S. Open coming to Wisconsin in June to a variety of local events and activities.
Mixed in, there are suggestions for summer camps for our kids and tips for painting.
Hopefully we’ve done our part to get ready for the new season. Now, we just need the weather to cooperate.
Dan Plutchak, editor
In a stunning defeat for a president and party that rode repeal of the Affordable Care Act to improbable wins in the November 2016 election, Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville and President Donald Trump this afternoon pulled a replacement bill that had no chance of passing.
The move on March 24, 2017, was a significant failure for House Republicans, who had voted by some counts 54 times during President Barack Obama's two terms to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
It's a little over halfway through Kurt Picknell's first term as Walworth County's sheriff, and he appears to have settled comfortably into the job.
But things change quickly in law enforcement, even in largely rural Walworth County.
The challenge for media companies, and what makes it interesting, is how to reach our readers where they happen to be in a format that’s useful to them.
We still refer to ourselves as a weekly newspaper group, but in reality we've become a complete media company that serves our readers 24hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
That's a big reason behind our recent launch of a new website in Walworth County to match employers with job seekers.
It complements our print publications that still arrive at the doorstep of your home twice a week. For the advertisers that make our newspapers possible, it is an important part of their marketing plans.
Between all of our papers -- Walworth County Sunday, the Wednesday Shopper/Advertiser, the Janesville Messenger and the Stateline News -- we deliver nearly 100,000 copies.
Of course, the news doesn't happen only twice a week.
Early in the week we learned that Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price would be in Janesville on Friday, March 3, to make the case for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
We also knew the visit would draw protesters concerned that the new program would result in large numbers of people losing their health insurance.
However, our Sunday paper already had been printed by the time Pence and crew landed in Janesville.
In the old days, that would have meant any or our coverage wouldn't have been available to our readers until the following Wednesday or Sunday.
But, because were also are an online company, we were able to cover the event in a variety of ways.
We posted photos and updates to Facebook and Twitter early Friday as media was setting up to cover the event. We also had updates while Pence gave his remarks, as well as coverage of protesters outside the venue. By later that day, we had full coverage online on our website and shared through social media with stories and photos.
That coverage was then updated and ready for print publication on Wednesday.
That's just one of the many ways readers and advertisers find us these days, which pings us to our latest innovations.
Earlier in the year, we launched our online classified tool, where readers can place classified ads through our website at CommunityShoppers.com. The complete classifieds from our papers also are online to read as well.
Our latest initiative rolled out two weeks ago when we launched WalworthCountyCareers.com.
We've always been the go-to source in the area to place and read help wanted ads, but now they are available online and in print.
The response has been great so far, and the advantage for those looking for jobs is that ads are local, rather than having to search through the large job sites.
To help get the word out, we're partnering with the upcoming Walworth County Business EXPO and Job Fair by sponsoring keynote speaker and "Return on Integrity" author John G. Blumberg.
The expo will be held from 8 a.m. to noon April 25, 2017, in the forum at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.
Blumberg will present from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and his program inspires attendees to build a return on integrity both organizationally and personally, according to a news release. Blumberg will sign copies of his book after his program.
Here's more from the EXPO news release:
Coordinated by VISIT Lake Geneva, 70 exhibitors will their business or organization and connect with past, current and potential customers, businesses and employees.
Exhibitors represent a variety of industries including business services, manufacturing, lodging, restaurants, health care, attractions, financial services, digital media, marketing and education.
More than 50 percent of the exhibitors are participating in the job fair.
"While exhibitor space has been selling at a steady pace, there still are some spaces available," said Nancy Elder, VISIT Lake Geneva events director.
"We’re happy to be able to ping such a sought-after keynote speaker to this important event," Elder said. "John Blumberg has authored three books and is a speaker who has been featured in keynotes and workshops in 10 countries."
Supporting organizations include Delavan/Delavan Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Discover Whitewater, East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce, Elkhorn Area Chamber of Commerce, Geneva Lake West Chamber of Commerce, VISIT Lake Geneva and the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance. Business EXPO sponsors for the event are Mercy Health and Daily Herald Business Ledger. Kikkoman is the job fair sponsor and Central Printing is the bag sponsor.
Admission is free to all job seekers who ping their resume or complete a standard job application form. Admission for others is $5 at the door and includes access to all booths and keynote speaker presentation.
For a complete list of exhibitors, go to www.VisitLakeGeneva.com/wcbe-job-fair/.
The long-awaited Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could have its first committee hearing as soon as Wednesday of this coming week.
What should be known by early next week is if the plan also includes elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
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